EDUCATION COALITION SAYS CUTS WILL CONTINUE TO HURT CALIFORNIA’S STUDENTS; SUPPORTS REPAYING SCHOOLS THE FUNDS THEY ARE OWED BY LAW
With last night’s announcement by Governor Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders that a budget agreement had been reached, the Education Coalition would like to remind all Californians of the toll that’s been taken on our students’ education as a result of the nearly $12 billion in cuts already enacted.
Though the coalition supports restoring the funding schools are owed under Prop. 98, the state’s voter-approved minimum school funding guarantee, the additional $6 billion in cuts will further impact California’s students, who live in a state that ranks nearly last in the nation in per-pupil spending. And in this tough economic climate, we question our leaders’ priorities when corporations are provided with tax loopholes as students suffer unprecedented cuts, rising class sizes and lost educational opportunities.
With school doors opening in just a few short weeks, school districts are currently trying to plan for the upcoming year, and hope to clarify their budgets once the state budget agreement passes. More than 17,000 teachers and administrators have already lost their jobs, as well as more than 10,000 custodians, bus drivers, food service workers and other school employees.
California’s schools are being subjected to historic cuts unlike anything we’ve seen since the Great Depression. This has resulted in larger class sizes, canceled bus routes, fewer advanced placement offerings, summer school programs eliminated and arts and music classes canceled.
Below are just a few of the most recent examples from across the state of the impact of cuts to education:
The summer school program for the Tamalpais Union High School District had to slice 15 percent from their budget as a result of state cuts to education. The cuts have eliminated Spanish and physical education classes, taken away teachers' aides and clerical assistants and scrimped on materials and supplies. At the Dixie School District in San Rafael, a sign posted on the Vallecito Elementary School says it all: “Summer School Cancelled Due To State Budget Cuts.” Like most of Marin's school districts, Dixie receives much of its funding from local property taxes, which has shielded the district from most of the state cuts to education during the past year. But recent state cuts to categorical programs, such as class size caps and instructional aides, have begun taking their toll on Dixie's budget.
Two local school districts are considering either eliminating bus routes or charging for home-to-school transportation as the state continues to propose further cuts to education. A letter will be sent to parents in the Palm Springs Unified district this week explaining the budget situation and letting them know that high school transportation may be eliminated for this school year, saving the district about $400,000 annually. The proposal will eliminate about seven routes and impact about 350 students. Desert Sands Unified is studying whether the district should charge for bus transportation or further adjust or eliminate routes. The district has already increased walking distances.
The first wave of pink slips hit Folsom teachers last year, targeting nearly 50 educators. Another 50 were let go in May. Teachers aren’t the only ones in the district facing layoffs. This next round of layoffs is expected to affect 59 “classified” employees and another 132 educators, or “certificated” employees – who range from cooks, and bus drivers to custodians.
The Education Coalition represents more than 2.5 million teachers, parents, administrators, school board members, school employees and other education advocates in California. For more information, please visit our website at: www.protectourstudents.org.